Florida Coast Thanks to a series of shipwrecks, including the SS Copenhagen—which sunk in 1900 and was designated an Underwater Archaeological Preserve in 1994—the waters off Pompano Beach in Greater Fort Lauderdale are now officially being called Shipwreck Park. This summer, the city will sink the 324-foot Newtown Creek 1.5 miles offshore as a new cornerstone of the artificial reef. Sign up to explore with South Florida Diving Headquarters.
California Coast Examine a series of tidal pools on a naturalist-led trip through Abalone Cove Ecological Reserve when you stay at Terranea Resort, located south of Los Angeles. Keep an eye out for starfish and sea anemones; you might also spot dolphins and sea lions in the ocean waves.
Oregon Coast Clatsop County’s 18 miles of beaches are renowned for their abundance of razor clams. Want to dig for your dinner? Head to the shoreline during low tide with a shovel in hand. After spotting their “show”—mature clams create dime-size dimples in the sand when they burrow—dig quickly: They’re fast and, of course, quite sharp. Visit dfw.state.or.us for permits.
Pacific Coast, Costa Rica Las Catalinas, a new seaside town in Guanacaste, is quickly becoming one of the country’s top destinations for ocean sports. Attend the annual SUP competition in the fall, or sync up with insider guides who can take you to a handful of remote surf breaks such as Witch’s Rock and the remote Ollie’s Point, which is only accessible by boat.
Marine Wildlife from Coast to Coast At the CasaMagna Marriott in Puerto Vallarta, guests can assist marine biologists as they release newly hatched sea turtles into the Pacific. On a jaunt with Captain John Whale Watching & Fishing Tours to the Stellwagen Bank in the Atlantic, sightings are guaranteed. The naturalist-led trip to see humpback, minke, and endangered right whales starts in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Go with Cancun Whale Shark Tours, whose owners founded the Whale Shark Conservation Society, which caps groups at 10 people.
/ Waterfalls and Swimming Holes
Broadmoor Seven Falls
For the best views of Broadmoor Seven Falls, Colorado, a powerful waterfall that crashes 180 feet down a natural box canyon on the outskirts of Colorado Springs, walk up 224 steps to a series of viewing platforms. Want to take the easy route? An elevator—located inside the canyon—will also lead you to a bird’s-eye view.
Arenal Springs, Costa Rica Stair-step falls accentuate three spring rivers—two hot, one cold—that flow from Arenal Volcano in northern Costa Rica, cutting through the grounds of the Tabacón Grand Spa Thermal Resort. Sit under the mineral-rich waters after a treatment in one of the 11 spa bungalows scattered throughout the property’s jungle grounds.
Enfield Glen, New York The local tagline “Ithaca is Gorges!” will hit home after a trip to Enfield Glen, located in Robert H. Treman State Park. You’ll pass 12 waterfalls on the park’s well-paved hiking trails, including the 115-foot Lucifer Falls, which tumbles down a steep rock face. Or go for a dip under a more modest waterfall in a nearby stream-fed pool.
Homestead Crater, Utah Few resorts have their own crater, let alone one that doubles as a geothermal pool. At the Homestead Resort outside Salt Lake City, you can swim (or take a paddleboard yoga class) in the pool at the base of the 10,000-year-old limestone formation, where the waters maintain a balmy temperature of 90 to 96 degrees. Prefer to stay dry? Learn about the crater’s history on a self-guided tour.
Sittee River, Belize One of the first things you might notice on the Jungle River Tour with Hamanasi Resort in Hopkins, Belize, is the noise: Brilliantly colored birds ranging from parakeets to keel-billed toucans sing in the canopy of trees above, quite the soundtrack as you canoe down the coastal Sittee River. Also keep an eye out for bobbing saltwater crocs and green and orange iguanas.
Mohican River, Ohio Prefer a relaxed day on the water? Rent inner tubes from Mohican Adventures in central Ohio and float along the Mohican River. The lazy 7-mile route winds through dense forest and sun-filled ravines. Reserve an extra tube for your cooler full of food, or stop at one of the snack bars on the riverbank. When night falls, bed down in one of Mohican Adventures’ cabins.
May River, South Carolina History buffs will love exploring the May River in Bluffton, South Carolina, aboard the Grace, one of the few gas-powered pre–World War I yachts left in the U.S. The boat was recently restored—to the tune of $1 million—by Montage Palmetto Bluff and now sports everything from a new engine to a fresh coat of paint. Enjoy a glass of champagne and hors d’oeuvres on a sunset tour, or sample wines on the Sommelier Sip and Sail.
Mississippi River While river cruising got its start in Europe, it’s making inroads in the U.S. on waterways like the Mighty Mississippi. On American Cruise Lines’ Lower Mississippi Cruise, soulful Southern stops include the Oak Alley plantation in Louisiana, anchored by an 1839 manor house and dotted with 300-year-old trees, and Natchez, Mississippi’s historic downtown. Back on board the 150-passenger Queen of the Mississippi, a paddle-wheel steamboat, travelers can dine in one of two restaurants and watch the working river from the sun deck.
River Caves, Puerto Rico With Explora Puerto Rico, brave a hike through the lush jungle-covered mountains in Arecibo, located in the island’s northwestern region, before rappelling 120 feet down into a river cave with impressive limestone formations. Next up is body rafting—you float a river, wearing a helmet and life preserver—through a protected wildlife sanctuary, where you’ll pass canyons and underground springs.
Oklahoma River, Oklahoma This month, Riversport Rapids one of only three man-made white-water rapids parks in the U.S., opens on the outskirts of Oklahoma City. Within the $46 million arena adjacent to the Oklahoma River, adrenaline junkies can navigate class II–IV rapids—all controlled by recirculating water channels—in kayaks, canoes, and rafts. The attraction is part of the larger Boathouse District, which also offers mountain biking paths and zip lines.
Black River, Michigan Port Huron, an hour northeast of Detroit, is home to the Island Loop Route National Water Trail, one of only 14 recognized water trails in the U.S. Rent a kayak from Missy’s Kayak Connection, and paddle the 10.2-mile loop, which spans canals, rivers, and part of Lake Huron. At journey’s end, kick back with a Hitch Hiker IPA from Thumb Coast Brewing on the river’s edge.
/ Bays and Lakes
The Chesapeake Bay, Maryland You’ll learn the bow from the stern during a sailing lesson aboard the Selina II in St. Michaels, Maryland. Join Capt. Iris Clarke at the wheel, or sit back and enjoy her history lesson as you glide past the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum’s floating collection of historic boats and the Inn at Perry Cabin, made famous by its appearance in Wedding Crashers. Twenty minutes away, off Tilghman Island, catch Maryland blues with Let’s Go Crabbing, a family outfit run by sixth-generation waterman Capt. Russell Dize.
Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin Located on a 292-acre body of water surrounded by cedar trees and fed by natural springs, Wisconsin’s Osthoff Resort excels in old-fashioned fun. Grab a box lunch from the hotel restaurant and picnic on the sandy shoreline, or visit the charming boathouse and dock. Here, you can rent canoes, Sunfish sailboats, and even a 21-foot pontoon.
Lake Pepin, Minnesota The Land of 10,000 Lakes actually lays claim to 11,842, many of which are within a couple hours’ drive of Minneapolis. At 21 miles long, Lake Pepin is the largest on the Mississippi. It’s also where, in 1922, 18-year-old Ralph W. Samuelson invented the sport of waterskiing. Every June, Lake City residents honor his legacy with the Water Ski Days festival, three days of trick-loaded ski shows, shorefront music performances, and kid-friendly delights.
Casco Bay, Maine At the end of this month, Portland Paddle begins its moonlight kayak trips on the Casco Bay, which borders Maine’s largest city. Depart just before dusk to see lighthouses and historic forts, not to mention seabirds such as eider ducks and guillemots. After sunset the bay is especially serene: Stars share attention with the city skyline, and glow sticks help guide you back to shore.